GaBoom: Jessica Ratcliff
The game swapping site’s founder on why she’s wanted to set up her business since she was 15
Company name: GaBoom Limited Website:www.gaboom.co.uk Founders: Jessica Ratcliffe Age: 20 Based: Godalming, Surrey Staff Numbers: 1 Date started: February 2010
Tell us what your business does GaBoom is a website where people can get the video games they want, using the games they own, by swapping them with fellow gamers. Members simply list the games they want and the games they have to swap or sell. GaBoom then matches them with the people they can swap with and offers two secure postage options through which to send their games to one another.
Where did the idea for your business come from? I first had the idea when I was 15 years old, but I was unable to get it off the ground using pretty much my pocket money at the time. Subsequently after starting University in 2009, I found myself in a position to develop the idea further and the end-result is GaBoom!
How did you know there was a market for it? Various industry and market research studies indicate that there are 74 million video games sitting unused in UK homes. 55% of the UK population plays video games, and the average gamer has 10 unused games at home, with 22% of them owning 10 or more unused games. To date there hasn’t been an easy, simple and fair way of exchanging those games or acquiring value from them post-play.
What were you doing before starting up? Before I started GaBoom, I was a student at Godalming College. Between finishing college and starting university I took a gap year and went travelling.
Have you always wanted to run your own business? Definitely. I have always wanted to start my own business and I have wanted to start GaBoom since I was 15.
What planning did you do before you started up? I completed a large amount of market research and put together a business plan illustrating what GaBoom is going to do, where it is going in the future and how. I had great help from Find Invest Grow UK, who help students set up businesses while at university.
How did you raise the money? I put together an extensive business plan and presented it to personal contacts. GaBoom excited them greatly and so they came on board.
Where is your business based? GaBoom is currently based in Godalming, Surrey. Luckily, I have not yet found it too difficult to manage my home and work life as I love what I am doing and fully enjoy working on GaBoom.
How have you promoted your business? To date, we have promoted GaBoom through free press, contacting the necessary individuals or organisations. For example, GaBoom was featured on BBC Click on 21st and 22nd August this year and I appeared on Dragons’ Den on 13th September. Both programmes have given GaBoom great exposure.
How much do you charge? GaBoom currently charges £2.00 for the GaBoom Escrow service and £4.40 for the Secure Swap service – these are our two secure postage options. We decided to charge these prices, as we believe they are fair and reasonable. They cover the costs we incur and allow for a margin of profit, without being extortionate in any way.
What about staff?I do not currently employ any members of staff. I work on GaBoom full-time and I have a great team of people around me who help with the running of the business. I am expecting to employ staff quite soon, so I shall keep you posted!
What has your growth been like? Since we entered into open beta in July 2010, the response has been great! We currently have over 3,000 registered users and that number is growing every day! As GaBoom has only been live for three months, I don’t have a turnover figure to share with you yet but we are on our way to beating all the targets we set in our business plan. We are currently ahead of where our business plan said we would be – which is fantastic.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time? I want to be running GaBoom (and other) businesses. I do have an exit plan but my lips are sealed I’m afraid!